The word porn and kids should never be in the same sentence, but this seems to be the world we are living in. This week in church, our Sunday school teacher shared some startling statistics about pornography that were not new to me, but every time I hear them, I realize I need to be more vigilant with my own kid’s online activity. And here’s what you need to know and how you can protect your kids online.
Here are a few statistics about pornography every parent should know:
- In 2015, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health (link is external) ranked internet safety as #4 in the top 10 health concerns for children. Ranking ahead of school violence.
- According to TopTenreviews.com the average age of first Internet porn exposure is 11 years old.
- 35% of total downloads on the Internet are pornographic in nature.
- One out of 7 kids have received a solicitation of porn and there are 100K websites that offer illegal child pornography.
- The Crimes against Children Research Center says that 1 in 5 teenagers have received a sexual solicitation via the web.
- and “about 25 percent of the youth who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent.”
- According to LDSLiving.com “79 percent of young people’s unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home.”
So the bottom line is, our kids are seeing this stuff, whether they want to or not, and many of them aren’t telling us about it.
My oldest is ten years old, and while we’ve had many talks with her about making sure to tell us if she sees something online that makes her uncomfortable, I think we haven’t been blunt enough in our conversations. So, what should parents do to protect their children online?
- Start talking about it EARLY. I first realized my kids were vulnerable when a seven year old in our neighborhood showed my kids something on his iPod touch that was not age appropriate. It wasn’t porn, but it was also something I didn’t want my kids to see. Realize that while you are doing everything to set appropriate limits in your own home, other kids are walking around with devices in their back pockets and they can expose your kids to porn on purpose, or accidentally. It’s never to early to start talking about internet safety.
- Know what games your kids are playing online. While screen time limits are important, and so are knowing the age appropriateness of games, you can never do too much investigating. I was surprised to learn from this article that Minecraft has a sex mod on it. Yes, you heard me right. Make sure you are using parental controls, and playing the games your kids are playing. Roblox is another popular game that I recently discovered has rooms where you can go shoot cops. Something I did not know.
- Talk to them about when strangers approach them online. The sad reality is that child predators are lurking where the kids are lurking. That means they are on popular games where they can interact with our kids. Make sure your kids know that if someone starts talking to them that they should never share private information with that person such as their name or DOB, and to tell you when they are approached by someone they don’t know online. No exceptions.
- Watch the everyday things your kids are seeing. Pornography is addicting, however, it doesn’t always start with hard-core porn. Sexually explicit images are everywhere, and monitoring television shows, radio, magazines, and all other media sources in your home will help you protect your kids. If they find sexual images as commonplace, then they will be less likely to turn away from pornography when they see it.
- Reassure them that an exposure is not their fault. Kids need to know that at some point, they are going to come across this issue somewhere. Let them know now that if they do accidentally become exposed, or even if they seek out the information out of curiosity, that they can talk to you about it. There is a lot of shame around viewing pornography, and this contributes to why kids are afraid to tell their parents. Open the discussion now, so that when it happens, they aren’t afraid to tell you.
Resources to protect your kids online: